(23-Nov) -- Tomorrow's 80th edition of the Manchester Road Race in Manchester, Connecticut, will feature one of the event's best-ever elite fields, including 2016 American Olympic medalists, Galen Rupp and Paul Chelimo. Rupp, who won the bronze medal in the marathon, and Chelimo, who won the silver medal in the 5000m, will both be making their Manchester debuts.
PHOTO: Will Geoghegan (l) out-sprinting Maverick Darling and Donn Cabral to win the 2015 Manchester Road Race (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
"I'm thrilled to be here in Connecticut for the Manchester Road Race," Rupp told veteran Hartford Courant sportswriter Lori Riley on Tuesday. "The race just fit in perfectly with my schedule, and I think it's one of the most competitive years ever here."
Rupp, 30, who lives in Portland, Ore., rarely races in the eastern United States, except during the indoor track season. The last time Rupp competed outdoors east of the Mississippi was when he finished third at the United Airlines NYC Half back in 2011.
"I'm really just looking forward to the opportunity just to test myself, see where I'm at in my training," Rupp continued. "I think it's going to be a great race."
For Chelimo, 26, this will be his first road race since September, 2015, when he finished seventh at the USA 5-K road running championships in Providence, R.I. The U.S. Army athlete had a breakout year in 2016, running a personal best 13:03.90 to finish second at the Rio Olympic 5000m, a race from which he was initially disqualified, but then restored to the podium after a Team USA protest.
"Tomorrow is the day mid-distance meets distance," Chelimo tweeted today in a reply to miler, Kyle Merber. "Should be a fun show. I'm excited to get to race you for the first time ever."
Although reigning champion Will Geoghegan was knocked out of the race with strep throat, Rupp and Chelimo will still face a very strong field. Other podium contenders include two-time Olympic steeplechaser Donn Cabral, three-time USA 15-K champion Ben True (the 2014 Manchester champion), 2013 Manchester winner Sam Chelanga, Manchester course record holder Aaron Braun, and 2016 Olympian Leonard Korir.
"To celebrate the 80th anniversary the staring line will feature one of the best fields ever assembled in the long and storied history of this event," said elite athlete coordinator Jimmy Harvey in an e-mail to Race Results Weekly.
The women's race features the Manchester debut of two-time world marathon champion, Edna Kiplagat of Kenya, who will be stepping way down in distance to run Manchester's unusual 4.748-mile course for the first time. She'll be challenged by reigning USA 10-mile champion Jordan Hasay, 2015 NCAA 5000m champion Emily Sisson, two-time British Olympian Eilish McColgan, and 2014 world junior 3000m champion Mary Cain.
About 13,000 runners will take to the street in Manchester tomorrow, making it New England's second largest road race after the Boston Marathon. The race was first held in 1927.